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Tor Books

Entry updated 22 August 2022. Tagged: Publisher.

US publishing company – initially of paperbacks and later moving into hardcover also – founded by Tom Doherty, then aged 44, in 1980, in conjunction with Richard Gallen; the first titles were published in 1981. Doherty had previously been in control of Ace Books for five years. The first editor-in-chief was Harriet McDougal, and first head sf editor was Jim Baen, who left in 1983 to form his own company in 1984. Beth Meacham became sf/fantasy editor in 1984, soon becoming editor-in-chief; David Hartwell became consulting sf editor the same year, remaining with the firm until his death in 2016. This put two of the most expert sf editors in the US in the same company. Tor expanded rapidly, publishing only a few sf titles in 1981 but 137 in 1986, which made them one of the most important sf publishers. At the end of 1986 Doherty and his partners sold Tom Doherty Associates, Inc to St Martin's Press, a move perhaps connected to the bankruptcy of Pinnacle (Tor's paperback distributor on a contract basis), and to Tor's rapid expansion which had left Tor temporarily short of cash; but Doherty stayed on to run Tor. In 1988, Tor introduced Tor Doubles, similar to the old Ace Doubles (see Dos). Beth Meacham left in 1989, but continued (from Arizona) as an executive editor. The senior editor in charge of sf and fantasy then became Patrick Nielsen Hayden. By 1988 Tor and St Martin's together topped all US sf publishers in terms of number of titles published, 256; but Tor found this too much, and dropped from twelve sf/fantasy/horror titles per month to 9. By 1990-1991 Tor was publishing fewer sf/fantasy books than Bantam/Doubleday/Dell and Putnam/Berkley/Ace, though during those years – and since – it has published more sf/fantasy hardcovers than any other firm in the English-speaking world. In 1991 Tor dropped its separate horror list. Robert Gleason became editor-in-chief in 1991. Tor is currently part of the Holtzbrinck publishing group, now known as Macmillan Publishers. There is a UK sister imprint, Tor UK.

Tor has published many important and long-established sf authors, including Poul Anderson, Greg Bear, Michael Bishop, Orson Scott Card, John Kessel, Pat Murphy, Mike Resnick, Kim Stanley Robinson, Sheri S Tepper, Jack Vance, Walter Jon Williams, Gene Wolfe and Jack Womack. Authors whose first novels have been published by Tor include Tom Maddox, Rebecca Ore, Richard Paul Russo, John Scalzi and Jo Walton.

Tor's popularity with readers is clearly shown in the Locus Awards category for best publisher, where Tor Books has an unbroken string of wins from 1988 to the present day. More recently, since July 2008, Tor has published a leading Online Magazine: In May 2014, was also announced as the name of a new Tor imprint for novella-length ebooks and audiobooks, with a print-on-demand option and possibly even standard print publishing for a select number of titles. Patrick Nielsen Hayden became editor-in-chief of Tor as a whole in March 2018. The imprint was later spelt out as Tordotcom to distinguish it more clearly from the Tor website.

In August 2022 the immediate parent company Tom Doherty Associates was rebranded as the Tor Publishing Group, the overall umbrella for Tor, Tor Teen, Tordotcom, Forge, and other TDA imprints. [PN/DRL]

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